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#amazonfail and the importance of twitter to PR

Watching Twitter go mad over Amazon’s adult content ‘glitch’ over the weekend really highlighted the important role Twitter can play for PRs and showed why it really can have a business model.

Not long ago Laurie pointed me to www.howtousetwitterformarketingandpr.com – I felt then that that website was fighting a losing battle, and now I’m certain of it.

Previously the main way to monitor your reputation online was to see if people were blogging about you, or posting in forums about you. Both of these required effort from teh part of the contributer (Cf. the amount of updates this blog has had).

You blog or comment about a company if the service was really really bad, or really really good.

This is generally useless to companies. But on twitter, it’s different.

Twitter offers companies a powerful way to monitor their reputation. People will twitter about anything, whether it’s what they had for breakfast, which side they dress and how Pizza Hut didn’t quite deliver on time. You might just say that you had a really friendly pizza guy, or your phone number porting was a bit of a faf (hattip G). If you can monitor this in real time you can spot problems quickly and react to them before they become major crises.

In Amazon’s case I’m willing to accept cock-up over conspiracy – but for an online specialist they needed to react quicker then they did. If they’d been monitoring twitter properly they’d have spotted the problem within minutes of it becoming an issue, got to the bottom of it, and put out a statement to end it.

Amazon also learned how quickly bad reputation can travel through twitter – things go viral far quicker then they ever did through email.

This is also where Twitter has a business model – The Register (bless it’s soul) seems convinced that web 2.0 business models must be about advertising. But twitter has worked out there’s not much money to be made by on screen advertising – what they can offer is premium services to companies who will be willing to pay lots per month for this. This can be done by keeping the core service free to consumers (who won’t care about a limit of 100 API calls an hour for example).

#Amazonfail has probably opened a lot of peoples eyes both to the power of twitter, the risks it poses for organisations but most importantly the fantastic opportunities it now opens.

(Lets see if I can keep this up a little more regularly now).

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